AN inquiry has been launched after a cow which had been rescued by firefighters from a pond and then cared for by local people, was eventually discovered to be so weak it had to be put down.

On Friday night, two Trowbridge fire crews and the animal rescue team from Stratton spent several hours carefully getting the thin and frail cow out of a swampy pond in a field behind Wyke Road.

They successfully rescued the cow, using straps, lines and a slide. However locals say its owner, Richard Lewis, of Devizes, who rents the land from Wiltshire Council, did not turn up at the field until Sunday afternoon.

In that time, nearby residents took more than a dozen buckets of water to the cow, which was visited several times by a vet and the RSPCA. They also helped prop it up, as the animal kept collapsing onto its side.

The cow was eventually put down on Monday night.

Richard Grant, 82, of Wyke Road, was one of the many neighbours who tried to help the cow by bringing water to it. The retired farm worker was outspoken about the animal’s condition.

“That cow didn’t have a blade of meat on it. And what is really sad is that it had a calf that is now relying on the other cows,” he said.

“I saw the fire crews pull it out of the pond on Friday night. That pond should have been fenced off.

“Me and my neighbours went down to the field many times over the Saturday and Sunday. We managed to prop it up and bring it water but there was not much that could be done.

“I used to work on a farm and also in a slaughterhouse. The cow should never have been brought there in the first place. Something like this needs to be done to stop this happening again. It is awful.

“When the farmer eventually turned up I told him what he was doing was cruel. He told me that I didn’t know anything about cattle. That is not true because of my jobs over the years. I lost my temper but I went round later and apologised.I just cared about the cow. It was difficult to sleep over those nights because I was worried about it.

“The vet and the RSPCA came down but I think they were cautious about doing anything because the farmer who owned the cows and the land wasn’t there It was eventually put down on the Monday.”

Mr Lewis refused to talk to the Wiltshire Times this week when asked to comment on the rescue and the decision to have the animal destroyed.

A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “If a tenant keeps animals on council-owned land then it is their responsibility to ensure their welfare. We are aware of an issue on this particular land and are looking into the detail before we assess the options available.”